As published in The Washington Post - Letters to the Editor
Thanks to The Post for bringing to light what the troops on the ground in Afghanistan have known for years: “Senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable” [“At war with the truth,” front page, Dec. 10].
As a Marine Corps combat adviser, I served in Afghanistan from 2014 to 2015. On Jan. 1, 2015, we awoke to the new world of Resolute Support and “the end of combat operations.” In terms of threats we faced, nothing had changed, but the context within which we faced them changed drastically. When submitting operations for approval, we now had to state that Afghans were in the lead, with U.S. troops providing support. This rhetorical absurdity did not reflect the situation. Afghan troops remained woefully inept, under-resourced and corrupt, and they certainly were not capable of taking the lead. Yet, because of an arbitrarily imposed deadline, we began to lie to ourselves, hoping in some convoluted way that these lies would change reality.
I sincerely hope this reporting serves as a wake-up call. Rather than lying to ourselves, we would be better served having an open debate about the true objectives of our use of force. Lacking this discussion, we will continue to fight for the sake of fighting, with no overarching purpose.
Maurice L. Naylon IV, Richmond
The writer is a Marine combat veteran of Afghanistan and author of The New Ministry of Truth: Combat Advisors in Afghanistan and America’s Great Betrayal.